Hundreds of Harnett students, school staff either infected with coronavirus or in quarantine

Posted October 30, 2020 9:08 p.m. EDT

More than 250 students, teachers and others associated with Harnett County Schools have either been infected with or exposed to coronavirus.

The district started full-time, in-person classes for elementary school students in early October. By Thursday, 22 coronavirus infections were reported, and another 237 people were in quarantine, according to the district's online dashboard.

Benhaven Elementary School, near Sanford, had 53 quarantines reported, which was the most in the district and more than double the 25 reported Monday. No infections have been reported at the school.

Mallory Hubbard, who has three children at Benhaven Elementary, said she's confident in the school's precautions against the virus.

"I think they're doing a really good job," Hubbard said. "They wear their masks all day. The teachers are keeping them socially distanced. [There's] tons of hand washing and sanitizing."

But grandparents of Benhaven Elementary students were more anxious.

"I'm concerned about the numbers because I'm older and my husband is older and just the concern that [our grandson will] bring something back home," Cassandra Philbrick said.

"If it was my doing, yes, she'd be home. but her mom wants her in school," Teresa Duncan said of her granddaughter.

District spokeswoman Natalie Ferrell said the dashboard numbers reflect everybody associated with a school, including students in remote learning at home.

"We're keeping an eye on the dashboard and are being as transparent as possible," Ferrell said, adding that the high number of quarantines shows that administrators are being extra cautious.

Middle and high school students in Harnett County are still on a hybrid schedule of in-person and virtual learning.

In neighboring Johnston County, more than 100 coronavirus infections have been reported by the school district.

Sixty-four students, most in elementary schools, have the virus, as do 38 staffers, also mostly in elementary schools, according to Johnston County Public Schools.

No clusters have been reported in October, however.

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